Why should you care about the Grammy Awards? Very valid question. But let’s face it: as the Writer’s Strike threatens to shut down more and more red carpet events, the 50th Annual Grammies may be the only constant in this year’s lagging awards season. In that light, the following is the fourteenth installment in my three-week countdown to February 10. Read below for my picks & pans in one of ’08’s many Grammy categories.
The award: Best Male Pop Vocal Performance
Past five winners: John Mayer (“Waiting on the World to Change”); Stevie Wonder (“From the Bottom of My Heart”); John Mayer (“Daughters”); Justin Timberlake (“Cry Me A River”); John Mayer (“Your Body is a Wonderland”)
“Everything,” Michael Bublé
“Belief,” John Mayer
“Dance Tonight,” Paul McCartney
“What Goes Around…Comes Around,” Justin Timberlake
Who’s Missing: Robin Thicke. As this is a vocal award, I expected Thicke to be a shoo-in for “Lost Without U,” the love song he sings entirely in falsetto. “Lost” had a five month Billboard run, peaking at #14 — making it a bigger hit than anything on this list save “What Goes Around.”
Who Shouldn’t Be There: John Mayer. Grammy voters have a reflex to choose Mayer whenever given the chance, and sometimes that’s a good thing — like his win in this category last year. Other times, it’s not; “Daughters” winning for Song of the Year in 2005, for example, was one of the lowest points in recent Grammy history. (Mayer doesn’t even perform the song in concert anymore.) So this year’s nomination for “Belief,” one of the more throwaway tracks from Continuum, might earn him another award in the face of four more deserving artists.
Who Should Win: Paul McCartney. The Grammies have an absolutely toxic relationship with Sir McCartney. It dates all the way back to his early days, when the Beatles only won seven Grammies during their livelihood — a pitifully low number considering their contribution to modern music. After that, Paul won two Grammies with Wings, the latest in 1979. But since then, he’s become a chronic nominee; in the last decade alone, he’s been nominated for eight awards without a single victory to show for it. Two of those times, he lost in this category to someone less than half his age and less than a fourth his talent. So please, Grammy voters, give the best living songwriter a statuette before he hangs up his golden ear.
Who Will Win: Justin Timberlake. Timberlake’s last win in this category was for “Cry Me A River,” to which “What Goes Around” is a sequel: both are aimed at Britney, both are produced by Timbaland, and both show off Justin’s impressive mid-range and falsetto vocals. More than that, the kid is a Grammy favorite — winning four awards in the last four years. Expect this to be his fifth in five.